Another Rio banana skin for David Cameron

There’s a gem lurking in the depths of the The Future We Want, the “Zero draft of the outcome document” for the Rio+20 conference that was released earlier this week.

I say that from the admittedly narrow perspective of environmentalists in the UK whose disenchantment with prime minister Cameron plumbs new depths almost daily. On taking office his government infamously promised to be the “greenest ever”.

It is Cameron who told the world that he wouldn’t be bothering to attend the Rio conference, a decision which wipes out any future hopes of restoring his green credentials when it becomes more politically expedient, as it undoubtedy will.

And it is Cameron who wound up the UK Sustainable Development Commission in the name of pruning unnecessary government bureaucracy. The SDC had performed well, raising the profile of sustainable development and saving taxpayer funds in the process.

The subsequent performance of the UK government on social equity and environmental protection has been suspect, to put it mildly. Worst of all, they have brought the concept of sustainable development into disrepute through breathtakingly inept wording of controversial planning legislation.

All is not lost. If the Rio+20 Zero draft is approved in June without amendment to Clause 61, Mr Cameron will find himself in U-turn territory:

We therefore call on countries to establish and strengthen, as appropriate, national sustainable development councils to enable them to coordinate, consolidate and ensure the mainstreaming of cross-cutting issues in the highest decision-making bodies, with the integration and full participation of all stakeholders

That’s pretty close to the brief of the much lamented UK Sustainable Development Commission.


this article was first published by OneWorld UK